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Re: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty

Thanks, Yrjo. Interesting paper that brings out further features of the
reigning ideology of technological salvation and some possible measures one
can take to combat it.

To skip all the way down to Peter's comment about the new literacies, it is
clear that this line of thinking can pollute even enlightened approaches to
literacy. At LCHC we are engaged in an ongoing discussion about all of the
*****-literacies (computer literacy, health literacy, science literacy,
emotional literacy, etc ad nauseum). So many important players in that game
seem to us really confused not only about all the extensions of the concept
of literacy, but about the historical circumstances of its emergence and its
relations to power and money.

Its also great that posting the article brings people's attention to Axio.
Thanks for that too.

2011/1/1 Yrjö Engeström <yrjo.engestrom@helsinki.fi>

> Mike, thank you for your thoughtful message. Attached is a recent paper of
> mine that supports your line of reasoning.
> Regards,
> Yrjö
> mike cole kirjoitti 1.1.2011 kello 6.54:
>  A quiet evening in a warm dry home sure is a nice place from which to look
>> forward, backward, and around on a New Year's eve. For a variety of
>> reasons,
>> I wrote down the following thoughts. Bail at any time!  :-)
>> mike
>> ---------------
>> Thoughts About Digital Technology and Poverty
>> The other day I spoke with a friend, the son of a former college, who is
>> now
>> a professor in a technologically sophisticated field at a major American
>> university. We were talking about an iphone application related to
>> education. He thought that the iphone could revolutionize education,
>> “pushing knowledge out to everyone.” I commented that the young people in
>> the housing project where I work did not generally own i-phones. Sure some
>> of them texted and all coveted mp3 players, but on the cheapest versions
>> of
>> the requisite technologies. My friend dismissed my concerns about reliance
>> on educational practices that excluded a large part of the population on
>> the
>> basis of class, and hence, ethnicity. It was a new idea for him. Can’t
>> afford an iphone? Really?
>> The following morning I met a colleague who volunteers to work with staff
>> at
>> the housing project to provide additional resources for the families who
>> live there. Christmas is a special time for charities. All is good cheer.
>> The kids get to “shop with a cop” and the parents get some help as well.
>> My
>> colleague and a few co-workers organize “Secret Santas” from our
>> university,
>> arranging for those of us with money to provide Christmas presents for
>> “needy families.” Kind of like the NY Times holiday fund raising drive.
>> A few days before Christmas, the Santa’s helpers delivered the goods:
>> food,
>> clothing, bedding, toys for the kids, Avon kits for the mom’s. Something
>> for
>> everyone. At the apartment where I was a Secret Santa (having comfortably
>> donated my money and presents in place of my time and presence) things did
>> not go as planned. Santa’s helpers knew that the family wanted a bed for
>> two
>> of the children. So they planned to deliver a bunkbed. But when they
>> arrived, they found that there was no furniture in the house at all,
>> except
>> two sofas, taken out of the dumpster by other tenants who had been forced
>> to
>> leave the project because they could no longer afford to pay the
>> subsidized
>> rent.
>> The dad was home, and so was his almost-grown son. They are both looking
>> for
>> work. They are attending classes at a local job-training center. So far,
>> no
>> luck.  They could still pay the rent on the apartment. And the kids could
>> get by on the meals they could provide. But when the unemployment checks
>> stop coming, as they soon will, it seems like they may be the next tenants
>> to move out. Out to where? God only knows.
>> “You know,” my colleague mused after she and her coworkers had recruited
>> more Santas Helpers to round up the needed furniture and food, “those
>> people
>> really have it hard. They are looking for work, but there is no work
>> anywhere in that neighborhood, not for miles around. And they don’t have
>> cars. Even if they find a job, how will they get there in a town like
>> this?
>> They are very discouraged. I would be too. I sure feel lucky to have a
>> steady job here.”
>> When I arrived home with this story, my wife, shook her head and replied,
>> “You don’t know even where to begin.”
>> I started to think about the impact of new severe cuts in family services
>> that California is facing and the disastrous level of unemployment which
>> is
>> unlikely to come down any time soon for these people. Then the
>> conversation
>> with my high tech professorial friend came to mind. No, you don’t know
>> where
>> to beign, I replied, But wherever you start, I don’t think it should be
>> with
>> the educational potential of i-phones.
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